When Did Parties Turn Into A Chance to Give the Guests Gifts?

photo credit: IMG_5983 via photopin (license)

photo credit: IMG_5983 via photopin (license)

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up, the standard when it came to any kind of party was that you were there to celebrate the one the party was being held for. After all, it was their “hour” so-to-speak. If it was a baby shower, you were there for the mother or parents of the baby-to-be. A birthday party was all about the birthday boy or girl. A wedding shower – for the bride and/or groom. And so on and so forth. You brought a gift, you ate some yummy treats, and you showed your love and support for that person on their special day. Then, you went home. Stay with me now… Without a gift of your own! *GASP*

Oh, the humanity! How could people have possibly survived in a day and time where they left a party without something to take home for themselves?! It’s absolute insanity, am I right?! (If you’re actually thinking I’m right, you might want to move on from this post.)

I’m alive and here to tell ya, we survived. Not only did we survive, but we managed to escape those present-less parties for the guests with our focus intact and directed at the proper person – the one the party was actually for.

I remember when I was getting married, I worried about the fact that I couldn’t provide “swag bags” or whatever they’re being called these days to the guests at my wedding shower. We were planning our wedding in a matter of two months, completely unexpectedly, because my mother-in-law had been diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and we wanted to make sure we could have her there for our big day. The budget was practically non-existent, there was absolutely no wiggle room, and providing everyone in attendance to my shower with a token of my appreciation in gift form wasn’t exactly something that made the cut.

I thought it was a ridiculous notion, but when that’s the standard nowadays, I found myself struggling with feelings of guilt that I couldn’t provide it. Guess what? It’s been five years, and I’m totally over it. In fact, I’m pretty sure I was over it by the time the wedding was over.

When I go to someone’s wedding shower, I’m bringing them something. I’m celebrating their incredible, life changing event. What the freaking heck do I need a bag of goodies to take home for?! Because I showed up? I showed up to work last week. I didn’t see anyone dropping their wallets to shower me in presents then. Maybe I should go talk to them about that…

Birthday parties are the same way. The first non-family member party our daughter went to, she came home with all these trinkets. I say trinkets when I really mean a bag of junk that could’ve come from McDonald’s happy meals. Stickers, toys that broke within a few weeks, and other useless crap like candy. Gee, she just left your party where she gorged on cake and ice cream, and now you’ve sent her home with more sugar so she can go into a diabetic coma. This isn’t Halloween people. It’s a birthday party! They also held that little girl’s birthday party at a venue where they did gymnastics, and it was almost $200 to rent out for the two hour party. I remember very vividly telling my husband that night that if that’s how parties are now, there’s no way we’ll ever have one for our kids. We couldn’t afford to. And we’re not in the habit of draining our wallets to keep up with the Jones’. By all means, if you are the Jones’ and can afford those venues, have at it! Just skip the goody bags full of worthless junk for the guests.

Here’s the deal: things are hard enough financially as it is without us adding Pinterest expectations to the list of things to waste our money on. Kids’ expectations are at an all-time high thanks to technology and access to seeing what everyone else in the world has that they don’t. So, the next time you plan a party or event, whether for yourself or your child and whether it’s at a venue or your own home, try these tips:

  • Don’t put together “swag bags”, “goody bags”, or any other type of gift bag for the guests (they will live to see another day, I promise)
  • When each guest arrives, try telling them “hello” and you’re “happy they could make it” (it’s a wonder how far that goes to making someone glad they came)
  • If you open the gifts at the party, thank each person after you open their gift to you (don’t wait until you’ve finished opening them and thank everyone at once – do it for each individual person)
  • When it’s time for guests to leave, make sure to tell them “thank you again for coming” (that last acknowledgement can have a lasting effect)

That’s it! Seriously. It’s that freaking simple. People spend so many hours everyday being taken for granted. Having a few short moments of appreciation that they came can really make an impact. After all, it’s not about the guests. It’s about the one being celebrated. Our society is filled with people only concerned with what they get out of everything. It’s time to start worrying about how we can give to others – of our time, our gifts (both material and God-given), and our attention. Then, we can really begin to appreciate the simple art of being together.

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/86597381@N00/3478622264″>IMG_5983</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

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